STORRS, CT – Facing Connecticut closer Mike James with the game tied at 5-5 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, junior Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ) laced James’ first offering to the fence in right-center, driving in two runs and giving Rutgers a 7-5 win in the series finale today at J.O. Christian Field." />
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Rutgers Moves into First Place With 7-5 Win Over UConn
Esposito and Atchison Fuel Comeback Win; Notre Dame Falls to West Virginia in South Bend
  • Posted on May 04, 2003 12:00:00 AM
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  • STORRS, CT – Facing Connecticut closer Mike James with the game tied at 5-5 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, junior Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ) laced James’ first offering to the fence in right-center, driving in two runs and giving Rutgers a 7-5 win in the series finale today at J.O. Christian Field. Esposito was just one of several heroes today, as sophomore Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ) and senior Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) were outstanding in relief, allowing just two runs in six combined innings. With today’s win, Rutgers is now 26-15 overall and 15-4 in BIG EAST play, and moved into first place in the BIG EAST standings, a ½-game ahead of Notre Dame. RU has also won 14 of its last 15 games.

    Trailing 3-0, Rutgers broke through with a pair of runs in the fourth as Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ) walked and Esposito singled to open the inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Colin Gaynor (Toms River, NJ) smoked a line drive into deep right-center, which ended on a terrific diving catch. Alerty, Frazier tagged from second and never broke stride, racing all the way home with RU’s first run, while Esposito scampered into second on the throw to the plate. Esposito’s advancement was important because the next hitter, Nick Cerulo (Woodbridge, NJ), laced a double, knocking in another run to cut the lead to 3-2.

    An inning later, Frazier and Esposito set the table again, earning back-to-back two out walks against Soteropoulos. UC head coach Andy Baylock visited the mound, but decided to leave Soteropoulos in the game. Steve Normane (Pt. Pleasant, NJ), who failed to deliver in his previous two at bats, made the Huskies regret their decision, hammering an RBI single into left, which scored Frazier to tie the game, 3-3.

    Connecticut took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but Rutgers re-tied the game with a run in the top of the seventh. Matt Wolski (Hamilton, NJ) and Esposito sandwiched singles around a walk to Frazier to load the bases with no outs. UC reliever Eric Drown then induced a pop-up for the first out, but Gaynor’s slow roller to short scored Wolski to tie the game.

    The Huskies went ahead, 5-4, with a single run in the seventh, as Brett Burnham singled home Tony Mallozzi, who opened the inning with a single of his own.

    As they have done all year, the Scarlet Knights came right back in the top of the eighth inning. Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY) led off with a single to center. Mike Bionde (Pompton Plains, NJ) moved him to second with a sacrifice and, after a strikeout, Cory Rodriguez (Bridgewater, NJ) singled through the middle, plating Defendis with the tying run. Frazier followed with his fourth walk of the game, putting runners on first and second and forcing Baylock to bring in James from the bullpen. James first offering to Esposito, a fastball, found its way to the base of the fence in right-center, 370-feet away, and Rutgers had it first lead of the afternoon, 7-5.

    Atchison made things interesting in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with no outs, but a fielder’s choice putout at home and back-to-back strikeouts ended UConn’s threat. In the ninth, Atchison struck out the first two hitters, but allowed a pair of two-out singles, putting the tying run on first. He regrouped and struck out Jeremy Balisciano to end the game and earn his fourth win of the season.

    Atchison (4-1) allowed three hits and two walks, but no runs, in 2.1 innings. He struck out five. Rutgers’ 13-hit attack was led by Esposito (3-for-3, two RBI) and Defendis (3-for-4), while Frazier was 1-for-1 with a double, but walked four times and scored three runs.

                                  ** 2003 RUTGERS BASEBALL **
                                        Rutgers at UConn
                        May 04, 2003 at Storrs, CT (JO Christian Field)
    
      Rutgers 7 (26-15,15-4 BIG EAST)               UConn 5 (22-22,8-14 BIG EAST)
    
      Player                      AB  R  H BI       Player                      AB  R  H BI
      ---------------------------------------       ---------------------------------------
      BADGER, Graig 2b...........  5  0  1  0       D'Argento cf...............  3  0  0  0
      WOLSKI, Matt dh............  4  0  1  0       Mocerino 2b................  4  0  0  0
       RODRIGUEZ, Cory pr........  1  2  1  1       Soteropoulos p/dh..........  4  1  3  1
      FRAZIER, Jeff rf...........  1  3  1  0       Burnham ss.................  4  0  1  2
      ESPOSITO, Vinny 3b.........  3  1  3  2       Maler rf...................  4  1  2  0
      NORMANE, Steve 1b..........  5  0  1  1       Leonard c..................  5  0  1  0
      GAYNOR, Colin c............  3  0  0  2       Trubia 3b..................  4  1  2  1
      CERULO, Nick cf............  4  0  1  1       Peluso 1b..................  4  0  1  0
      DEFENDIS, Johnny lf........  4  1  3  0        Balisciano ph.............  1  0  0  0
      BIONDE, Mike ss............  4  0  1  0       Mallozzi lf................  4  2  2  1
      PUSTAY, Matt p.............  0  0  0  0        Smeraglino p..............  0  0  0  0
       KALB, Aaron p.............  0  0  0  0        Drown p...................  0  0  0  0
       ATCHISON, Sean p..........  0  0  0  0        James p...................  0  0  0  0
      Totals..................... 34  7 13  7       Totals..................... 37  5 12  5
    
      Score by Innings                    R  H  E
      -------------------------------------------
      Rutgers............. 000 210 130 -  7 13  2
      UConn............... 120 010 100 -  5 12  0
      -------------------------------------------
    
      E - ESPOSITO; BIONDE. DP - Rutgers 1; UConn 3. LOB - Rutgers 12; UConn 12. 2B -
      FRAZIER; ESPOSITO; CERULO; Maler 2; Trubia. HR - Soteropoulos. SH - CERULO; BIONDE;
      D'Argento 2. SF - GAYNOR; Burnham.
    
      Rutgers                        IP  H  R ER BB SO  WP BK HP IBB  AB BF  FO GO
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      PUSTAY, Matt ..............   3.0  5  3  2  0  1   0  0  0  0   14 14   3  4
      KALB, Aaron ...............   3.2  4  2  2  2  1   0  0  0  1   12 17   5  5
      ATCHISON, Sean  W,4-1......   2.1  3  0  0  2  5   1  0  0  1   11 13   1  1
    
      UConn                          IP  H  R ER BB SO  WP BK HP IBB  AB BF  FO GO
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Soteropoulos ..............   4.2  6  3  3  5  3   0  0  0  0   17 23   4  5
      Smeraglino ................   1.1  2  1  1  1  1   0  0  0  0    6  7   1  2
      Drown  L,3-6...............   1.2  3  3  3  1  1   0  0  0  0    7  9   2  2
      James .....................   1.1  2  0  0  2  0   0  0  0  1    4  7   1  2
    
      WP - ATCHISON.
    
      Strikeouts - BADGER; GAYNOR; CERULO 2; BIONDE; D'Argento; Mocerino; Soteropoulos;
      Burnham; Maler; Leonard; Balisciano. Walks - BADGER; FRAZIER 4; ESPOSITO 2; GAYNOR;
      DEFENDIS; Mocerino; Soteropoulos; Maler; Trubia.
    
      Umpires -
      Start: 12:00 pm   Time: 3:20   Attendance: 250
      Game: UCONN-3
    
      PUSTAY faced 1 batter in the 4th.
      Smeraglino faced 2 batters in the 7th.
    
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